Early recognition of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes enables control of the progression of these factors by lifestyle changes (weight loss and increased physical activity) and/or medication.
- W – each year our weight and waist get bigger, both as individuals and as a population. There are many factors but the ‘big two’ are high energy food and low energy lifestyle.
- X – syndrome X, or the metabolic syndrome, has three core components: overweight/waist, cardiovascular risk and abnormal glucose metabolism. Lifestyle change (eating less and walking more) can reverse, stop or slow the progression of these. Cardioprotective medications such as ACE inhibitors, statins or a low dose aspirin may be necessary depending on an individual’s cardiovascular risk.
- Y – why people develop the metabolic syndrome is usually a consequence of the ‘f’ words (forty, family and fat). The modifiable risk factor (fatness) should be focused on sooner rather than later, but avoid ‘blaming the victim’ for his or her problem.
- Z – sleep apnoea, or not getting enough zzz’s, often occurs with the other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and may worsen both the W and X factors. Night-time sleep disturbance can worsen the metabolic profile and daytime tiredness can reduce motivation and capacity for lifestyle change.